Monday Challenge: Present


Ignore any twitching; that’s normal. (Photo credit: Wysz)

I got you a present.

Yes, I know it’s early. But this isn’t strictly a holiday thing. It’s not even strictly a present, really. It’s more of a…challenge, I guess. Yeah. That’ll do.

It’s over there, under the tree. No, not that one. That one’s mine. Yours is the big one. Yeah, that one. The one that’s moving slightly.

Why? Well, I can’t tell you that. It will spoil the surprise. And I love surprises.

Sure, you can pick it up if you want. Careful, though; it’s heavier than it looks. And don’t be alarmed if you hear anything. It’s supposed to make that noise.

What’s that? Why is it leaking? Strange. It shouldn’t be doing that. No, no, of course that’s not blood. Though it is very red and festive-looking, isn’t it?

You know what? Maybe you should open it now, just to check and make sure it’s okay. Go ahead. I’ll be over here. Behind the door. You just open it, and tell me what’s inside.

Merry Christmas.

Breaking Things


Try not to be too desolate. (Photo credit: Jessica Whittle Photography)

I know I’m a big proponent of Never Taking A Break, Ever, but there occasionally comes a time when you’ve got to hang it up for a while. With that in mind, I announce the Christmas Break.

Oh, not from writing. I can’t physically take a break from writing. Seriously, the other day, I was so inspired I thought I should stay up late to write, but instead I went to bed, thinking a good night’s sleep would make me write even better in the morning. Instead, I woke up at 4 am and stared at the ceiling for two hours, wired out of my mind by the sheer volume of ideas sleeting through my head. I designed weapons. I made up new characters. I created settings. I was fucking high on imagination.*

Writing: it’s like crack to me. And, like a crack addict, should you try to take it away from me, I will rend you with tooth and claw.

So, I can’t take a break from writing, but I do occasionally take breaks from specific projects. Usually this happens at the end of a draft, so I can get some distance from the piece before I eviscerate it and make something better out of its hide and guts. I think manuscripts need a little time to mature before you start cutting. When I finish Draft Zero of The Patchwork King, I’ll set it aside for a few weeks and take up something else.

But sometimes you just take a break at a convenient time, especially for ongoing projects. I will be taking a brief blog hiatus until the New Year. Part of the reason for this is to really focus on finishing up the last of that zero draft I’ve been churning out. That’s going to start eating all of my non-Christmas related time now that the end is in sight. The other reason is that, hell, man, it’s the holidays. There’s parties and shit going on. And I deserve a break.

So keep writing and creating. We’ll meet back here on January the 2nd. You know, provided the world doesn’t end on the 21st. If it does, I look forward to meeting you in the shattered post-apocalyptic remains of our world.** I’ll be the one modifying my brass knuckles to deliver an electric charge.

See you soon.

*Lamest way to get high ever.
**Though if you have cool stuff, be warned that I’ll probably rob you. Sorry. Everyone for themselves in the apocalypse.

Monday Challenge: The Yule Duel


Shown: Traditional Tartan for the Yule Duel (Photo credit: Dolor Ipsum)

Sooooo…a week before Christmas Eve. Everyone freaking out yet? Everyone got their shopping done/commercialization protested against? Feeling good? That’s nice. I’m still on track to make the Christmas deadline for the zero draft, but if I don’t, guess what I’ll be doing on Christmas Day? Nothing like getting some word count in your stocking.

Speaking of the holidays, we had a party this weekend. Some friends of ours are going away over the holidays, so we wanted to do our gift exchange early. It was a hell of a lot of fun. Good food, good times. And it was themed. This was a Christmas pyjama party.

I should explain: the Husband and I like to make new traditions. When we first started living together and had our first Christmas where neither of us went back to our parents’ places, we decided to institute things to make the holiday ours. This has led to the Christmas Eve Lasagna, the Midnight Movie in Pyjamas, the Gift Opening Beers, and the Breakfast Skillet. We also eschew the traditional turkey feast in favour of the Christmas Day Theatre Movie, complete with oversized concession stand snacks. We like our traditions.

This was the inaugural year for the Christmas Pyjama Party, and we liked it. I think we’ll keep it.

So, for this week’s Monday Challenge, write about a tradition. It can be one your family has*, or one that you wish you had. Or even just something weird that your characters have. The Yule Duel**, the Snowman Sacrifice, the Burning of the Socks. Or something more serious, like the old Druidic sacrifices to get the damn sun to come up properly and stop lazing about. Pick your favourite and have fun.

And remember: traditions don’t have to make sense. If they did, they probably wouldn’t stick around so long.

*In my family, the biggest tradition was Distract Mom So She Forgets and We Don’t Have To Go To Midnight Mass.
**Actually, I kind of like this one. I might use this myself.


In Which I Discuss Package Tracking Numbers

Living as I do in a small town, I do a lot of shopping online. I love that shit. No crowds, no lines, and they bring it right to your door. Sometimes they even gift wrap it for you.

But there’s one tiny little problem with online shopping: the tracking numbers.

To illustrate my point, and because I’ve used up all my good words slogging through the middle of my novel draft, I drew these in between hitting refresh on the courier’s website.

Getting packages in the mail before tracking numbers:

Even that fucking box is happy.

Even that fucking box is happy.

And getting packages in the mail after tracking numbers:

Tip: hitting 'refresh' every eleven seconds is not as helpful as you might think.

Tip: hitting ‘refresh’ every eleven seconds is not as helpful as you might think.

Note that it takes the same amount of time either way.  The package arrives at your house no fucking faster. But I can’t shake the feeling that, if I keep checking, I’ll make that damn box move out of the sorting room. As if there’s a little sensor on it that goes off when someone checks on it for the seven thousandth time and the people who work there go, “Well, shit, we’d better get this one on the truck right away because there’s an impatient asshole out looking for it.” More likely, if there were such sensors, those would be the packages destined to be dropped, shaken, deliberately sat on, and then lost, because you are an impatient asshole. And nobody likes that guy. Nobody.

Still can’t stop clicking it, though. If you need me, I’ll be over here, tracking the package after every sentence that I write.